- Paperback: 354 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; First Paperback Edition edition (August 31, 1979)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521296803
- ISBN-13: 978-0521296809
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #363,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Selected Literary Essays Paperback – August 31, 1979
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"There is no essay by C. S. Lewis on any writer that does not provoke attention and inspire awe at his energy and clarity of mind."
Claude Rawson, Yale University --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This volume, available in print for the first time since 1980, includes over twenty of C. S. Lewis' most important literary essays, written between 1932 and 1962. Common to each essay are the lively wit, the distinctive forthrightness, and the discreet erudition which characterise Lewis' best critical writing.
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His writing voice and insight are so dependable I am almost content to make "Works C. S. Lewis Writes About That I Haven't Read" my personal reading list to last my lifetime. For one, it's hard to go wrong reading what Lewis felt worthy of an essay. For another, such a reader would get further into Lewis's thoughts when reading these essays. Not just to deepen one's brotherhood with him (and that's no small thing), but to fully benefit from his guidance.
There is a type of Lewis fan who might not like this book. If you don't care much for classic literature, but mainly hope to hear a good spiritual guide making broad stroke remarks about "bookish things," I would not recommend this book, especially at the out-of-print cost. You may as well attend the open heart operation of a Christian surgeon, for Lewis is hard at the technical parts of his work here. Certainly his faith is here in its delicate nuances, but I would say reading Mere Christianity or Screwtape over and over again would produce more of the fruit this reader wants. The person I'm really saying this to is myself from 15 years ago, but I can assume from reading other Lewis reviews that such a reader is still around!
As usual, Lewis speaks with philosophical incisiveness into topics whose earlier discussion had reflected only pre-digested conventional opinion.
Your website is, however, old and established in internet terms so I went ahead.
The essays have been a source of stimulation since the book arrived, even when I disagree with Lewis' views. I think it was Lionel Trilling who wrote of greatness being 'commensurate with the power to offend'. By that measure, this volume of writing approaches greatness.
Partly this is because of his conservative Christian faith, which no modern Christian of even the slightest intellectual bent would defend. But the deeper problem is that Lewis rides a dead nag in general when he approaches psychoanalysis, narrative poetry, lowbrow vs. highbrow, etc.
It's a pity because he's a lucid thinker, a very good writer, and according to Kingsley Amis (who would hardly have exaggerated the point) the best lecturer of his time. Too bad he was such a fuddy-duddy when it came to "moral values".
Aristotle was his champion, and while there's much to be said for that, he misunderstood so little of the modern temper that his defeat in debate by Professor Anscombe, which deflated and depressed him considerably, indicates that he was ill-equipped to understand much of the thinking of his times.
Still, he's worth reading for his great gifts, even if admiration for him has to be muted, not enthusiastic (unless, of course, you're the evangelical antediluvian type).
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contain his writings.